A couple of months back I bought the Canon EOS 1D Mk II as a step towards full frame and in order to phase out my 40D and the EF-S lenses I have collected, so I can sell them to get money for more EF lenses. Now that I have had the 1D for a while and had the time to compare it to my 40D properly, I thought of writing down my findings for people to read. Here you go:
For anyone not familiar with the 1D (or even just 1) series, the camera body has a built in vertical grip and it consists of a magnesium alloy pushing the weight to 1530 grams - and 2190 grams with the 16-35mm from Canon attached. This makes it noticeably heavier than the 40D (which also features a magnesium alloy body) because of the size difference and quite a lot heavier than any entry level DSLR. As a result of this weight, the camera can become tiresome to use for longer periods of time.
This is the downside of the superb build quality you get with a 1D body. In my world it is heavily outweighed by the confidence I get that the camera can withstand almost any kind of abuse. I have used it on the beach getting sand and salt water all over it but the heavy duty rubber lids, covering the connection ports, along with the rubber seals at the battery and memory card slots stops anything thrown at them from getting in.
By handling I mean how fast it gets things done, basically. Here, the 1D has upsides and downsides. To stick to the construction of the previous section, I will start with the downsides. The camera has a quite small buffer; 18 RAWs and 24 L JPEGs. This buffer size is too small sometimes, as the camera can go through 8,5 frames per second. giving about 2 seconds of fast continuous shooting in RAW and about 3 seconds in L JPEG. The 40D has a buffer of 17 in RAW and 75 in L JPEG. With RAW the two cameras are similar but the 75 JPEGs can come in handy when fast continuous shooting is needed for longer periods of time. Here the development of technology is eminent. Furthermore, the browsing of taken shots can be slow.
The upsides of the handling of the 1D are the continuous shooting rate of 8,5 frames per second (which is actually really, really fast!) and the focusing accuracy. I have yet to shoot a picture with a wrong focus caused by the camera and not me.
Here the development of the technology is very eminent as well. The 40D excels in image quality compared to the 1D. The noise performance is bad on the 1D. Basically, the result of ISO 200 resembles ISO 400 on my 40D and ISO 400 on the 1D is worse than ISO 800 on the 40D. The details in the pictures are also less prominent on the 1D. This is caused by the sensor resolution of 8 MP compared to 10 MP on the 40D. I did not chose the 1D for its image quality, so this really does not bother me too much.
Ease of Use
It was quite a different experience to hold the 1D for the first time and try to set the different settings to my liking compared to the ease of use of my 40D. The 1D implements a multiple button-press system to change settings like ISO, shooting mode, focusing mode, bracketing and drive (single shot, continuous or self timer) as well as browsing through the menu system and the pictures taken. At least one button needs to be pressed while dials are turned and often it's two. On the 40D the change of settings is somewhat more intuitive and no multiple-button-pressing is needed. However, after having spent some time getting familiar with the controls of the 1D I am beginning to prefer the availability of on body access to settings I wish to change instead of having to go into menus. Some combinations of button pressing is very counterintuitive, though. It is very much a case of personal liking I think.
The 1D lacks a joystick, which I find very useful on the 40D. Build in flash and live view is not to be found on the 1D either. Sometimes I do miss live view to check focus or for composing shots from weird angles. The age of the 1D also shows its signs here. It does have a lot of customizable functions and personal functions with which you can tailor the set-up of the camera to very specific needs. I have yet to play with and learn all the different functions and their uses.
The reason I bought the 1D was not for IQ or features, as I knew a camera of this age would be lacking in many ways, but for build quality and handling as well as the slightly wider field of view because of the 1.3x crop factor compared to the 1.6 of the 40D. So far I have not been led down by my anticipations towards the 1D and I use it gladly for every photographing purpose I have. The 40D is now for sale along with my EF-S lenses as I don't find much need for them anymore.
So, there you have it. My thoughts on a kick-ass-oldie-but-goodie-camera
after having used it for some months.
Esben - used to be a wide angle photographer but then I took a Fuji X100 in the knee